Monday, July 10, 2017

Left-Behind Folk in the UK much like those in the US

It is fascinating how much similarity there is at the moment between the US and the UK politically. Especially as regards the behavior of those who believe themselves ‘left behind.’
I really have little more to add to this excellent analysis in the (London) Guardian. Except possibly for this. Labour did, indeed, do brilliantly in the UK General Election in June. And many Labourites are acting as if the next election (probably not before 2022) will be a case of building on that success. I’m not so sure.
For certain, Labour’s good result had much to do with the unexpectedly assured performance of Jeremy Corbyn. And the seeming attraction of Labour’s manifesto. But I still hold that history will show that 2017 was about rebellion much more than Labour.
Rebellion by Tory Remainers in London. Rebellion by Liberal Democrats against the LibCon Coalition record and against Farron. Rebellion against the European Union in the North and East of England. Rebellion by the young against austerity. The question is, how much of this rebellion will remain embedded in 2022?
I suspect the Liberal Democrats may be slightly regrouped under Vince Cable. Not much. Not enough. But some. Brexit will no longer be an issue. So just watch those Tory Remainers remain with Labour no longer. And I'm pretty certain the Tory government will merrily spend the next two years picking the more palatable and attractive cherries from Labour's offering of goodies, in order to calm further fears of pocket-picking going forward. At least among those whose votes the Tories want.
Meanwhile, as this article makes clear, the move by many voters in 2017 from Labour to Tory, in the North and East, was not just about Brexit. It was, as one correspondent describes, a 25-year movement. I’m not sure all those Labour voters will be returning. Besides, I don’t see how Labour will have anything more to offer in 2022 than they did in 2017. So, where does a better result come from?
Add to all this the near-certainty that the British Conservative Party will have a new and likely younger leader (my money is on Priti Patel). The Tories will need a polling lead of only 3% for an overall majority, compared to 8% for Labour. And the fact that Labour will be led either by Jeremy Corbyn (who goes down much better at Glastonbury than in the North and East), or by someone he pretty much handpicks. And I’m not convinced that the Tories will not be eking out a fourth, consecutive, narrow election victory.

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Friday, June 09, 2017

UK General Election 2017: The Morning After The Nightmare Before

I’ve been involved in electioneering in #GreatBritain, actively and as an observer, since the #GeneralElection of 1979, when I was also a successful #BritishConservativeParty municipal candidate. And I have never seen a General Election as remarkable as the one just finished (#GE2017). Remarkable not just because so few expected it (except, sigh, for #YouGov). But because the results themselves are still so confusing.
First, the overall picture. Well, I should have stuck with my original April prediction, and the reasons for it, when I said that this might all backfire on #TheresaMay. I suspected then that the pollsters and pundits were overestimating May, underestimating the holding power of #Labour, and not factoring in the likelihood that #Tory #Remainers would, well, ‘remain’ at home.
That said, my June adjustments weren’t without merit. They just didn’t take account of certain things that really only became apparent on polling day itself.
Young people turned out in droves – good for Labour. The #LiberalDemocrats did a teeny-weeny bit better than my second prediction assumed – bad for Tories. Not all of the UKIP vote in the North of England went to the Tories. Some 30% went to Labour – bad for Tories. #ToryRemainers did stay at home, especially in London – good for Labour. All of which might have made for a better night for Labour, but for the unexpected success of the Tories in #Scotland.
Ok. That is the big picture. But it wasn’t as simple as that. Take these two stats for example. At 4 o’clock in the morning (UK time). Within minutes of each other. The Tories won #Mansfield in the North of England from Labour with an 18.5% swing. While #ReadingEast was won by Labour from the Tories with a 16.5% swing.
Never, not in almost 40 years of interest in British General Election campaigns, have I ever experienced results of such complete and utterly opposite trend. What did it mean?
I’ve been scratching my head. I think the answer is this. People were just bloody weary. Weary of politics. Weary of politicians. They treated the whole production as one big By-Election. And just decided to rebel against everyone and everything.
Labour pushed out #Conservative. Conservative pushed out Liberal Democrat. Liberal Democrat pushed out Labour. And everyone had a shot at the #SNP in Scotland.
People saw through Theresa May and #NicolaSturgeon’s manipulation, and gave them both a bloody nose. They saw authenticity in #JeremyCorbyn and #RuthDavidson, and again, rewarded them both. Plus. The great British public decided they wanted to take it a bit easier on the #Brexit negotiations.
Where does this leave us? Well. I could go into a long ‘constitutional’ chit-chat. But, I’ll spare you. Here’s my very brief prediction of a timeline. May becomes #PrimeMinister. Supported by the #DUP. Eventually, there will be a vote of no confidence (may even come from her own side). #BoJo will be given a shot. He will fail. Corbyn will take his chance. He’ll let everyone see a juicy Labour Queen’s Speech. He’ll wave from No. 10 a few times. Suffer indignities at the hands of the Tories. He’ll wring his hands. Grimace. Shake his head. Shrug. Go back to the country. And get an enhanced mandate.
Why doesn't May just do the decent thing, and resign? Because she's a self-centered, selfish, stubborn pig. She didn't call this General Election for the good of the country, or for the good of her party. She called it to enhance her own personal position. Period. She knows she can't call a second General Election herself. She would be excoriated by the voting public. She knows her party grandees want rid of her. So, she's doing the only thing she can - for herself. Hanging on grimly.
Right. That’s really all I have to add to my #BBCExitPoll post of last evening. Save for a final personal note.
#NickClegg lost his seat last night. And I’m sorry. Theresa May made great play of the fact, when she took over as Leader of the Conservative Party and #BritishPrimeMinister, that she was putting the #Cameron legacy firmly in the past.
That legacy, at least in government, and to a very large extent, was the #CoalitionGovernment of 2010-2015. Which I believe, speaking as a wettish Tory, was one of the best experiments in governance I have witnessed in Great Britain. Not least because the charm, intelligence and patience of Nick Clegg brought out the better instincts of #DavidCameron.
I will miss Nick Clegg. So will the #UKParliament. And the people of Great Britain owe him a huge debt of gratitude. He was, in every sense of the expression, a selfless statesman.

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UK General Election 2017: The Exit Poll

Well. The notorious BBC exit poll has been published. Exit polls are no more a result than any other poll. But these BBC exit polls tend to be accurate.
So. First. Wow. Blimey. I was wrong with my prediction. But. At least I was on the right side of wrong. I wasn’t one of those predicting a May majority of 100, even 80.
That said. This is a victory for Labour. A disaster for May. A goodish result for the Liberal Democrats. And the beginning of the end for the Scottish National Party.
Ok. What next? And let me give you a hint. There are next to no experts on the British Constitution among the British media. Absolutely none in the US. So. Pay no attention to them.
As a consequence of the rules agreed to after the General Election of 2010, when there was also a Hung Parliament, rules drafted by the then Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell, the Queen will call on the Leader of the largest Party to attempt to form a government.
May’s only real chance of a government is in coalition with the Democratic Unionists and the Liberal Democrats. The Liberal Democrats won’t. The DUP probably won't be enough. In my opinion, therefore, and if the exit poll figures hold true, May will probably fail to form a government that commands a natural majority in the House of Commons.
She may try to govern without a majority. If I were Jeremy Corbyn, I would not give her the chance. Screw all the nonsense about Brexit negotiations beginning in 11 days time. The British government will tell the EU to wait.
The Constitution requires that May be given a chance. But there is no written Constitution as such. It is all conventions, wisdom, paying attention to the voice of the people, sticking a finger in the wind.
And the bottom line is this. Two months ago, Theresa May had a polling lead averaging about 20%. The British public have utterly rejected her. More than this, they have voted positively for Jeremy Corbyn and his program. This will be especially true if the Labour vote turns put to be larger than in 2015.
It matters not what anyone says about the SNP voting on English matters. We are still one country, called Great Britain. And Great Britain handed a success to Jeremy Corbyn. He went up. Theresa May went down.
The result allows May to have her chance. But only a limited one. Corbyn’s success allows him to be hard-headed. But within reason. And it allows him to govern with the tacit support of the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Green MP, the Liberal Democrats and like-minded parties from Northern Ireland.
If May stays as Prime Minister, she will not be challenged as Leader of the Conservative Party until after the Brexit negotiations have concluded.
The Brits take this whole Queen thing seriously. The Prime Minister is the Queen’s Prime Minister, not Parliament’s.
The Queen calls on a Member of Parliament to form a government. Parliament does not choose that person.
If the Queen calls on May to form a government. Then it will be May forming that government for the Conservatives. Not another Conservative.
There is just a chance that the Conservatives, desperate to hang onto power, may demand that May step aside, in favor of another Conservative MP, who might gain the backing of Parliament.
I think that unlikely. May is stubborn. And Corbyn could turn around and say, convention requires I give May a chance. But not any other Conservative. They lost this election. They went entirely the wrong way. By bucketloads. Why should I stand aside?
I can’t say as I’d disagree.
If I had to put money on it. If this exit poll is correct. Corbyn will be Prime Minister within two weeks.
But how did this happen? Well, those polls which were showing this to be a close election were correct. And those fashioning those polls said that their models were different because they were factoring in a large turnout of young people. So. I’m guessing young people (18-25) made the difference.
Whoever becomes Prime Minister, tactics with regards to the Brexit negotiations will now change.
Theresa May was playing hardball because she said she had the country behind her. The country is likely still pretty much Brexit. But not hard Brexit.
Besides, those doing the negotiating for the EU are going to be the ones playing hardball now.
What else? Oh yes. Once the Brexit negotiations are concluded, May will be gone. Unless she resigns before the end of this coming weekend. And. She won't be getting a bust in the Carlton Club.
Even if Corbyn does not become Prime Minister, he’s not going anywhere. He now has the opportunity to choose his preferred successor.
The Liberal Democrats will be reasonable happy. Provided the exit poll works out. And gives them a few extra seats.
The SNP are finished. This was a bad result. They are not now going to get a second independence referendum. Labour won’t give them one.
Labour will be taking the view that, once Brexit is done, once folk realize there isn’t going to be a second referendum, those folk will abandon the SNP as a one issue party. Just as UKIP proved to be. At which point, Labour will be expecting to get back their voters.
Um. That's it. Until we get some actual results. May. 100 seat majority. Wipe away the tears of mirth. Never a dull moment in the UK, eh?

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Tuesday, June 06, 2017

UK General Election 2017: Pre-PostMortem

On the subject of distinguishing between real media and ‘fake’ news. My view of why we got the result in the UK General Election we got. In advance of getting it.
And my apologies for writing about tacky politics at this difficult moment in the land of my birth. But politics is the answer. And writing about it remains important.
Pretty much as I predicted when the election was called, Theresa May and the British Conservative Party will win an outright majority. But of no more than 40 seats.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time rehashing what everyone else is saying, or will say. I’m going to offer my own personal perspective.
First, what is different between my earlier prediction and this pre-postmortem? Answer: the Liberal Democrats.
Pretty much all that I said in the earlier prediction, especially the collapse of UKIP, and the opening that would offer the Tories, will come true.
But, the Liberal Democrats have also collapsed. Which means the Tories will pick up a few extra seats in the South-West I was not predicting on April 20.
The other major change is I do not think a low majority for May will be due to low turnout. It will be because she has turned out to be a manifestly awful campaigner. While Jeremy Corbyn has been surprisingly affable and effective.
Which is not to say May made a mistake calling a snap election. She didn’t call it for the health of her party, or the country. She did it to make the most of what she privately perceived as her own shortcomings.
I think Theresa May is a lot like Gordon Brown. Controlled. Controlling. Introspective. Shy. Insecure. With all the charisma of a soggy Margaret Thatcher 1979 tea towel.
Unlike Gordon Brown, I believe May was well aware of her personality shortcomings. Like Gordon Brown, she had a plan all worked out for maximizing her leadership in the first few months of her reign. Then, unlike Brown, she had the balls mercilessly to take advantage of her temporary popularity.
Plus, she was canny enough to look ahead, and realize that the Tory brand was waning.
May transformed the Tory Party, after her ascension, from Cameron’s touchy-feely tree-hugging to UKIP. Not UKIP-lite. No. Full bore UKIP. With devastatingly-effective and cruel manipulation, May took full advantage of all the emotional consequences of Brexit.
She wasn’t in the slightest bit interested in the future. She was interested only in this election.
I think the clever people around May. And they are very clever. Told her that, once Brexit was done, well before the chosen date for the next General Election of 2020, the voting public would have no reason to vote for the Tories other than their record.
And even the most fervent of Conservative blue rinses has to accept that the time for this version of Toryism is over. The sell-by date is past.
Electorates never vote out of gratitude. They vote for goodies they are going to get tomorrow.
Whatever folks may think about Tory claims that they rescued Great Britain from Labour excess and recession. That was all so five minutes and Nick Clegg ago.
People have had enough of being noble. Of being told they need to accept cut, and cut out and cut off, for the good of the country, their children, the world, someone over there.
It’s time for some sugar. The clever people around May told her that, by 2020, and with Brexit out of the way, the Great British voting public would be looking for a bit of Bert after all the Mary Poppins. A spoonful of sugar. And Tories don’t do sugar well.
It’s no good talking about nationalization, and price controls, and ceilings being a part of the failed past. No-one cares about the Seventies. Besides, people like to do their own failing. They won’t get warned off it by being told it’s going to end in tears.
If people paid any attention to history and causes, marriage counselors and bookies would have gone out of fashion a long time ago.
So. May knew 2020 was going to be a disaster for the Tories. Knew her best shot was now. Knew that those 20% polling leads would dwindle the moment she began to put her foot in her mouth. And so, she called her snap election. For herself. And for herself alone.
Now. To be fair. I suspect she knew her polling figures would take a knock. But not as much as they have. Very few punters predicted Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign. And let’s be clear, Jeremy has done more than cement his own position as Labour leader post-election. He has, in my humble opinion, made Labour favorites to win the next General Election.
Corbyn and Momentum made a conscious decision not to offer Tory-lite in 2017. They presented a coherent alternative economic and social policy. Based on assumptions which rang true with the current British electorate.
Again, it matters not if Tories and others whined that nationalization didn’t work last time. Neither party was offering anything all that new. There never really is anything new in politics and economics. It’s all a rehash of the past.
The only thing that matters is whether or not it is a rehash whose time has come. And Jeremy Corbyn, with his integrity, charm, affability and humor, created a space, entirely all his own, in which that rehash could be viewed positively. And I predict that will be a stepping stone to likely Labour success in five year’s time.
I’m not sure Corbyn will hang around for another election. But he will now likely go on his own terms. And I suspect not least because the more intelligent of those who opposed him will realize that he really was the man for the hour. There probably was not another candidate who could have done a better job of making Labour policy look so warm and fuzzy in 2017.
Oh. An even further look ahead in my pre-postmortem crystal ball? Unless May exceeds all expectations, and does in fact get a majority of at least 80 seats, she will be history by the time of the next General Election.

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The YouGov Model for UK Election 2017

Well. With all the brou-ha-ha in the UK over today's YouGov poll. Which suggests. Completely against the grain. That the Tories will actually lose seats on June 8. I thought I'd be fair and offer the 'science' behind the YouGov polling. From the very lips of their chief political scientist.
To be honest, I lost interest after "This model is then used to estimate the probability that a voter with specified characteristics will vote Conservative, Labour, or some other party."
Sigh. Why not just walk down a bloody street and ask people how they're going to bloody vote? When did this all become so complicated?

Monday, June 05, 2017

HSBC

It ain't just me rabbiting on about corruption in the British Conservative Party. Mind you. My corruption isn't about drugs and banks. Mine is about arms deals and banks. Well. I say 'mine.'
Thank you for posting the original story, Gerry Platt, and for directing me to it, Maggi Gilson.
I've contacted the people behind this story. For help. To exchange. Whatever. With my luck, they'll think I'm a British Intelligence stooge ...

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Monday, May 08, 2017

Trump, Brexit, Big Data, PsyOps - and 'Maggie's Hammer'

This is one of the scariest articles I've ever read. And I've had moments of being very scared these past 29 years. Have I mentioned My Book?
We wonder about big data, about the NSA, about surveillance, Russia, hacking, e-mails, Clinton, corporate media, fake news, alternative facts, the Brexit con, the Trump con. This story connects all the dots. It will chill your blood.
I'm reaching out to a small band of dedicated left-wing anti-corruption activists in the UK, to help me finish the Maggie's Hammer investigation. Finally. And for the first time, in a long time, I am today seriously wondering: why bother? If this is what we're up against.
What does it matter if we find some people who will now talk? What does it matter if we end up with the story of the century? The absolute proof that the British body politic is corrupted from top to bottom with hundreds of millions of dollars in arms bribes.
If the story can be stifled with technology, private intelligence companies and rogue nations? Not to mention a British military-political-industrial complex, which sits on the boards, and has a vested interest in protecting its arms kickbacks, and now possesses the resources and opportunity to do so?
The most chilling aspect is that the entire enterprise appears to be being orchestrated by otherwise cuddly Silicon Valley types. I dunno. For fun? Because they can? Household names. Google. Uber. PayPal. Working with the dark side.
Actually, that would be the most chilling aspect were we not also being told that all of this modern technology, and the villainous working relationships outlined in this article, are combining the forces of the military, the private sector, data companies and computer scientists to update the concept of governments using psyops against their populations.
I deal with this in my book. The allegation that British governments began to use military psyops against the civilian population in the early Seventies. When some bright spark in British Intelligence decided that what had been used with success to win hearts and minds in Northern Ireland could be used to win hearts and minds more generally on the British mainland.
Problem was, as these things tend to go, and as this article confirms, it is usually right-wingers who go for this type of manipulation. And so, it is generally a right-wing agenda being pushed.
This was the case in Great Britain in the Eighties. When intelligence psyops helped to bring Margaret Thatcher to power. And she responded by giving British Intelligence carte blanche to do what it liked.
Which is how British Intelligence (and my mate) became so involved in arranging illicit arms deals, pipelining arms kickbacks to Intelligence officers, bankers and politicians. And, along the way, honing its skills at psyops, in order to hide all the corruption, and hold successor British governments to ransom. All the while, laying the path for the toxic and far-reaching collaborations detailed in this article.
I knew that all aspects of this corruption had become an industry. I just wasn't aware it had become such a hi-tech industry. And I wasn't expecting to read about it in The [London] Observer, on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Bloody hell. I need to go lie down.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Brexit, British General Election 2017 and Blair

Leading British Labour Party politician Chuka Umunna today posted on his Facebook Page a note angrily rejecting former Labour Party British Prime Minister Tony Blair's call to Labour supporters to vote Conservative or Liberal Democrat in the June British General Election, in order, according to Blair, effectively to block a Brexit 'at any cost.'
This is some indication of the confusion I believe Brexit is going to impose on the June British General Election. Making it almost impossible to predict what will be the outcome. Although, once again going against the grain, I have already predicted that I do not believe, as most of the talking heads are suggesting, that current Conservative Party British Prime Minister, Theresa May, will walk away with a landslide. I think she will have a Parliamentary majority of about 30 ...

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

It May All Backfire For May

And so. Everyone and his uncle is predicting that British Prime Minister and her Conservative Party will reap the rewards of a double digit polling lead over the opposition Labour Party, and win the General Election in June by a landslide. I'm not so sure.
Yes. She will win. I'm going to stick my neck out and say, with a majority of no more than 20-30. Which will be seen as a shocker. Bearing in mind she has a majority of 17 now.
The first thing that everyone forgets is how badly all the pollsters got their call of the 2015 General Election, and why. You may remember (because I'm an insufferable pr**k, and won't let you forget), I was one of the few to call that election correctly. And the reason is that I paid attention to the true nature of the underlying trends.
Most analysts - even now - say the unexpectedly good result for the Tories was due to a collapse in the Liberal vote. This was true of the seats that the Conservatives gained in the South-West. But, in the North of England, it was the Labour vote which collapsed.
So. All this talk of the huge majority that May will rack up, due to a collapsing vote in the North of England? Folks. It already happened. But. But. The polls, Geoff. The polls. What about the double digit lead that the Tories didn't have back then?
First, we live in a totally different age now. I mean, literally. The SNP closing out Labour in Scotland. Brexit changing the political landscape. Tactical voting now being second nature. Fake news. Alternative facts. Leaders who lie as a political philosophy.
No-one actually tells the truth to pollsters any more. Polls are no more than Christmas wish lists, people thinking aloud, wondering 'what if.' You watch those polls tighten dramatically as reality strikes home. Or not, as folks continue to lie.
Won't make any difference. Because this election is going to be about the stay-at-homes. Tory voters are pretty good at turning out. But, what about those Conservative Remainers? They are used to expressing displeasure by hopping over to the Liberal Democrats. Look at Richmond. They know May is going to win. So, maybe a few surprises there?
Yeah. Liberals Democrats are hopping with joy. But, they worked decades to get to some 54 MP's just a couple of elections ago. They'll pick up a lot of Tory Remainers. But they'll lose some of their own Leavers. Plus, their left-wing, which deserted to Labour in 2015. They ain't coming back. And the few Tory seats they may pick up in the South and South-West. Will be offset by the potential gains they lose to the Tories in the North. Where former Labour Leavers, who moved to UKIP in 2015 (the Labour collapse pollsters missed in 2015), will now switch from UKIP to the Conservatives. Snatching several potential gains from the Liberals.
Please note that last point. This, in my opinion, may well be the trend that everyone else misses this time. UKIP Leavers in the North switching to the Conservatives in droves. But, not enough to offset a surprisingly strong Labour showing, a low Tory turnout overall, and strong(ish) Liberal activity.
Which brings us to Labour. Yes, there are too many who dislike Corbyn. Yes, there are those who will say, s**t, we're going to lose anyway, let's send a message we want Corbyn gone. But. The core Labour folk. The diehards. Those who still sing the Labour anthems in the grimy sandstone temples they call Labour Clubs. They'll turn out. Along with all those Momentum acolytes. The collapse won't be enough to hand May a 100-seat majority.
I could go on. But. Bottom line? One more time. Too many Tories will stay at home. Labour already collapsed in 2015. Any more collapsing between the main parties will pretty much offset itself. Save for UKIP shifting to the Tories in the North. The Liberal Democrats will be lucky to come away with about 60 seats. And, as I say, the Tory majority will be no more than about 30. And the history books will excoriate May. Who will be gone by the following General Election.

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May in June

Well. British Prime Minister Theresa May has called a snap election. This has to be the biggest political yawn since.
I'm sorry. I'm so underwhelmed. I can't even be bothered to think of a semi-humorous analogy.
The ruling British Conservative Party has been recording a double digit polling lead over the main opposition Labour Party since.
The Labour Party itself is led by the most ridiculous and disastrous political leader since.
As British General Elections go, there hasn't been a better chance for a sitting Prime Minister to win re-election in a landslide since.
Of course May is not going to play ball, and offer any of the opposition parties a foot in any door. No-one has occupied a more commanding political position since.
I mean. Let's get real. I haven't yawned so much since.
[Tomorrow, if I can be bothered, I will be offering a stunning and comprehensive analysis of the possibility that the British Prime Minister called the General Election in June, because her surname is May.

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Freedom -v- Security

In the light of the actions of Khalid Masood, this may be regarded as an insensitive post. I do the sensitive bit at the end. But the fact is that we live in times increasingly dominated by the public interest argument about the relative emphasis civilized societies place on security versus freedom.
Frankly, it is almost never a very honest debate. It depends on one's political starting point. And where in history one chooses to begin the narrative.
Who fired the first shot? Who invaded whom first? Who is due the most retribution? When? And for what? Was it The Crusades? The Moorish push westwards? The desire for oil? Militant Islamic fundamentalism? Migration of Muslims into the West? Fear of cultural and religious differences? The 'militant tendency' of the Islamic faith? The vigorous fundamentalism of Old Testament Christianity? What?
To be fair. To be effective. To live in the real world. For myself. I begin the discussion with where we are now. In which regard, I think it fair to say that the first responsibility of any level of government is to protect all of the individuals who live within the jurisdiction of that level of government.
If we are talking about Great Britain, that 'protection,' in my opinion, means equally protecting the security of people going about what used to be called their lawful occasions. And it means protecting the rights and freedoms of Muslim residents to be Muslim. Of anyone to be who they are.
I do not see the need for choice. Legislators and law enforcement use their best efforts to ensure that folks are safe from any danger. Societal oversight then makes sure that government does not overreach itself in offering protection from that danger. And all citizens remain vigilant to respect the differences between the many different beliefs, religions, cultures, preferences and lifestyle choices of all those living together in a nominally free society.
Beyond that, yes, it is incumbent on all of us who choose to be sentient to look to the causes of hateful difference between us, to see what can be done to minimize the possibility of that hateful difference becoming harmful. Whether to individuals, or to society generally.
It is also incumbent on all of us who choose to care to pay attention to all the possible triggers for violent behavior: emotional issues, lifestyles, environment, belief systems, whatever.
There will be much argument in the coming days about what lay behind this attack in London. That is important. It is why I began this post by addressing that subject. For, to be frank, while a relatively small group of people will be spending their time dealing with the immediate and personal grief following the loss of their loved ones (and my heart very genuinely goes out to them), the rest of us will be engaging in that wider debate about cause and consequence.
I wanted to offer my primer in a discussion which, because of the nature of the times in which we live, will almost certainly involve much heat, innuendo, blatant falsehood, distraction, and toxic hate. This post won't prevent that. But at least it allows me the opportunity for contribution, in what I hope is a calm and measured manner.
All of which said. I do very truly feel terrible anguish for those who died. Those who are injured. Those who suffer, because of loss, concern, worry and the tremendous amount of care that is yet to come. Not least, because the rest of us will likely forget all these good folk, just as soon as the news cycle moves on.
I also grieve for a society. Any society. Which creates a soul, so lost, that he or she feels the only way he or she can feel safe, can express themselves, is the need to engage in violence against another. I feel desperately sorry for a society that stands by and allows them to be so lost. So forgotten. That gets its priorities so wrong.
Perhaps somewhat controversially, I have feelings for the bringer of violence, who died in the violence of his making. He is likely the product of circumstances not all of his own making. We can pretend otherwise. But that will, with respect, achieve little, if we are truly looking for a safer society. I have feelings for anyone who was born in what most people in the world regard as an obviously 'civilized' and peaceful corner of the world. And yet was so troubled, so unhappy, so disturbed, so unsatisfied with that corner of the world, that the way he felt he could best bring meaning to his life was to take the lives of others. He has much to answer for. So do we.
And finally, I feel tremendous sadness that we feel the necessity to elect leaders whose first reaction to episodes such as this attack will almost certainly be to calculate how they can use the episode to maximize their political status.

Deluded Losers

I link to what I regard as an appalling article, from the former Editor of The London Guardian.
We elected Donald Trump. We voted for Brexit. We discover it is not just Russians bombing the Middle East and killing civilians. Martin McGuinness did what he did. Khalid Masood did what he did. And behind all of these events are people who acted for reasons.
As human beings, we judge. But. If we want things to change, we have to move beyond the judgment, and understand the reasons. Understanding requires what Preston reviles as 'the oxygen of publicity.'
It is my God-given right to think any way I choose. To express those opinions however I want. And to act upon them in any manner that is legal.
But when you are the former Editor of a respected news outlet, and you are read by many, there is an especial responsibility upon you to recognize your outsized contribution to that 'oxygen of publicity' (certainly outsized compared to you or me), and to act accordingly.
It is my undersized but considered opinion that, with this article, Preston acted like a narrow-minded pig.

It's The Agenda, Stupid!

I read an article in The London Daily Telegraph, the headline of which screams: 'Gibraltar accuses Spain of 'hijacking' Telegraph poll.'
Sigh.
The themes are: nothing is what it seems to be; all is virtual; anyone can hack anyone; nothing is objective; everyone has an agenda; find out for yourself; decide for yourself; and stop blaming other people for the dumb decisions you make.
The NSA has so many satellites in space (not to mention the British, French, German, Australians, Israeli's et al), it looks like Steptoe and Son's scrapyard up there.
They record every electronic communication made anywhere in the world. They have infrared, x-ray, microwave, ultraviolet and plain 'ol normal eyesight. You can't shit in a pot without the US knowing what you are doing. And that's just the US and the NSA.
They don't need warrants. Warrants are what you get to introduce evidence to trial. Not to spy on your granny. And anyone with an associate degree from Peoria Community College and Photoshop can turn it all around, and change what is on your computer, in your pics, on your record, what shows up in a poll.
Your computer and your telephone can be hacked when they are turned off, inside a lead box. And it doesn't take a lot of money. It ain't just Donald Trump, Breitbart and United Airlines changing the story.
We live in a world of the immediate. Where your fifteen minutes was so sixteen minutes ago. Standards went the way of the horse carriage and the audio cassette. Mainstream went conspiratorial, in order to keep up with Daisy May's viral blog on alien cooking and the rise of the altright.
No-one wants boring and staid and honest any more. They want color. Vibrancy. Crazy. Silly. Cats. And if it's a 'true' story about the cat eating the alien cooking that Daisy May says brought the altright to power, then so much the better.
So.
Stop believing what you read. What you are told. What you see in your Facebook feed. Find out for yourself. Look to an author's credentials. Their politics. Find purpose. Agenda. Form your own view. Own it. Act on it. And take responsibility for it.
Oh. And as for Gibraltar. Wake up. Let's mouth the words. Colonies are ancient history. Worse than slavery. But. People should be allowed to decide for themselves. To design their own destiny.
Got that? With me so far? Now. Chuck that out the window. And let the harsh glare of cold hard reality shine a little sense onto the equation.
Gibraltar stands at one of the two entrances to the Mediterranean. It is owned by the UK. Which just left the European Union. Underneath the Rock is one of the least secret and largest 'Top Secret' military bases possessed by Great Britain.
It is a primary training base for those activities of its special forces GB doesn't want the rest of the world knowing about. GB ain't giving up Gibraltar anytime soon. Whoever hacked The London Daily Telegraph's poll ...